On the Verge of Emergency

Israel’s Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, warned today that Israel is “on the verge of an emergency” and he asked everyone to be fully prepared, ready to work around the clock.

The reason? Someone in Israel was found to be infected with the ‘new’ South African variant of the coronavirus, which currently goes under its scientific name of B.1.1.529.

Mr Bennett held an emergency meeting on Friday morning to discuss this new variant and what it might mean for the State of Israel. He is considering the closure of schools on Sunday to encourage more vaccination of children, saying:

“A few weeks ago, when we did the `Omega` national exercise for a new lethal variant scenario,
it would have seemed a bit detached. Needless to say, this is one of the most significant moves
that has prepared us exactly for the situation we are in now.”

The infected Israeli had just returned from the Southern Africa country of Malawi. Israel’s Health Ministry says that two other travellers are also suspected of being infected with the new strain and waiting for their final test results as confirmation.

All three were vaccinated and the details of their inoculation are still being verified as part of the rapid investigations now in progress. Countries around the world want to know whether this new strain can bypass the immunity provided by the current vaccines.

Health Ministry staff are trying to trace people who have come into contact with these three individuals.

The reason for all the concern is that South African scientists announced through a news conference that this new variant has a “very unusual combination” of mutations that might make it more transmissible and more effective at evading people’s immune response than previous variants.

If that turns out to be the case, it could trigger another wave of infections and deaths around the world.

Like other countries, Israel has taken new action to restrict travel from African countries including: South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini.

They have all been added to Israel`s ‘red’ list, which means that Israelis are banned from travelling to those countries unless they can obtain special permission from the Health Ministry.

Strangely, Malawi is not on that list, but may soon be added to it.